Secretary Silvestre Bello on Thursday criticized the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) for ordering its military arm to intensify attacks after martial law was declared in Mindanao.
“We are deeply disturbed that the Communist Party of the Philippines made a false reading of the intents of President (Rodrigo) Duterte in placing Mindanao under martial law,” said the labor secretary, who is also a government peace panel chair.
Bello said the situation that “warranted such declaration were matters of public knowledge.”
“There was a need to restore law and order, protect the lives of the citizens and preserve private and state properties,” he said, adding that Duterte has categorically declared that he was not after the New People’s Army.
“He, in fact, reiterated his keenness on pursuing peace,” Bello said. “We therefore find the CPP directive to the NPA to intensify attacks as totally misplaced borne out of a grossly distorted appreciation of the President’s intention.”
The CPP said Duterte’s martial law declaration went “beyond the threats and theatrics of the past months.” It argued that Duterte, who claimed that he will be “as harsh” as former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is ordering the military “to impose its rule and carry out more abuses with extreme impunity.”
Bello said the CPP’s order was an “insult” to the “candor and genuineness” of the President and the government peace panel.
“At worse, it betrays the absence of sincerity of the CPP in the negotiating table,” he said. “Lest it be construed as abetting the criminal and terror acts of the Maute group and a gang of Moro bandits, we put the CPP to task to correct its error and recall its senseless order.”
Nevertheless, Bello said the government maintains its commitment for lasting peace. JPV/rga
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